Emergency management is defined as "a process to reduce loss of life and property and to protect assets from all types of hazards through a comprehensive, risk-based, emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery." An Emergency Plan is simply documentation of the elements in the program.
A comprehensive emergency management program encompasses all hazards and all related planning areas including emergency and disaster planning and preparedness, hazard identification and mitigation, emergency response, disaster recovery, business continuity and resumption, crisis management, continuity of operations, and related areas. Good emergency management is required for day-to-day disruptions as well as managing response to and recovery from disasters. A sound program is needed to enable a business to deal with any emergency.
An emergency is any unplanned event that can cause deaths or significant injuries; or that can shut down your business, disrupt operations, cause physical or environmental damage, or threaten the reputation or revenue. These generally include:
2. Hazardous materials incident
3. Flood or flash flood
6. Winter storm
8. Communications failure
9. Radiological accident
10. Civil disturbance
11. Loss of key supplier or customer
13. Biological agent release (bio terrorism)
A "disaster" is a large-scale emergency although even a small emergency left unmanaged may turn into a disaster.
Any emergency management initiative must start with an inventory of risks and an assessment of the exposure form these risks. Infrastructure issues will likely be seen as the ones that present the most risk. The key steps in emergency management are:
Mitigation is defined as "sustained action that reduces or eliminates long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects." Mitigation is the ongoing effort to lessen the impact disasters may have on people and property. Mitigation involves such activities as avoiding construction in high-risk areas such as floodplain's, engineering buildings to withstand wind and earthquakes, and more.
Preparedness is simply preparing for an emergency before it occurs. Obviously, it is important to not just plan, but to prepare as well. The key to effective emergency management is being ready to provide a rapid emergency response. Being ready includes training and exercises as well as logistics. Government agencies at all levels have an obligation to prepare themselves and the public for emergencies. Community groups, service providers, businesses, civic and volunteer groups, are all partners in this effort. Everyone needs to be prepared. FEMA has some useful information on emergency preparedness on their web site.
Response includes the action of responding to an emergency. Trained and equipped personnel will be required to deal with any emergency situation.
Recovery is the process of returning to normal. Salvage, resumption of business processes, and repair are typical recovery tasks.
The Incident Command System (ICS) provides a management structure and system for conducting on-site operations. It is applicable to small scale daily operational activities as well as major mobilizations. ICS, provides command center and operational staff with a standardized operational structure and common terminology. Because of this, ICS provides a useful and flexible management system that is particularly adaptable to incidents involving multi-jurisdictional or multi-disciplinary responses. ICS provides the flexibility needed to rapidly activate and establish an organizational format around the functions that need to be performed.